You are Significant With or Without a Significant Other

When I speak at a college, no matter the topic they give me, I start the same way: Thank you for having me. You are significant with or without a significant other.

I say it every time because our culture is weirdly obsessed with romance and couples and being part of a matched set.

I say it every time because some of the people I love most in the world are single—either because they haven’t yet found their person, or because their marriage has ended. Honestly, I’ve reached that age when I hear more divorce announcements than wedding bells.

And sometimes I wonder if there would be fewer divorce announcements if we weren’t so hung up on marriage as a status symbol or accomplishment.

I love being married to Aaron. He’s my person, and every day I’m thankful for the life we’re making together. But being married doesn’t mean my life is any more valuable or important or significant than the lives of my single friends.

A friend was in town over the weekend, and just as he left, he said “Hey–we broke up. I wanted to tell you. And I wanted to thank you for always reminding me that it’s okay to be single.”

He’s an old friend, in the awesome little brother category, a smart and sensitive person who’d been trying to make a relationship work. And there was a lot of pressure for him to make it work, because it would turn him into that magical thing our culture loves to celebrate—a married person!

And I’m so happy that my you are significant with or without a significant other mantra was valuable to him. That’s kind of one of my things—one of the things I love to tell people. A couple other things I love to tell people: go to counseling, make your own salad dressing, just about anyone can run a marathon. But I digress.

I love to tell people that it’s okay to be single because so many of my very favorite people are single. And it breaks my heart when they feel like they’re less or half or waiting around for their real lives to start. That’s garbage.

You are significant with or without a significant other. Marriage isn’t like being named prom queen. It’s a partnership, one I love being a part of. But it doesn’t make me more special. It’s not a status symbol.

For whatever set of reasons, our culture loves the Game of Life two-in-the-front-seat way of living. But that’s not the only way. And you’re not less-than for being solo in your car in this season. And I’m so sorry if sometimes you feel that. That’s awful.

Here’s the truth: some of the worst people I know are married. I don’t know how it happens. And some of the truly best people I know are single. I don’t know how that happens, either.

But what I do know is it’s not about the fundamental value of the person in question. Your value is not up for grabs, and certainly your value is not riding on a cultural obsession with romance and tulle and diamonds.

You are significant with or without a significant other.

A few thoughts for my single friends, who I just adore:

Don’t wait for marriage to start your life. Oh, man. My single friends do this so well. I love all the ways that my single friends are living well, with a great sense of adventure and purpose. They’re starting non-profits, traveling the world, creating homes with great style and creativity, contributing to their communities with so much love and honesty.

One of the very worst things about the whole wedding tradition is that we help people set up households when they get married, communicating that homes and nice things are for married people. Why should you have to be married to own a decent knife? Why do we only give married people towels and china? Shouldn’t every person, married or not, have a decent coffee pot? Isn’t that sort of a basic human right?

I remember when a single friend said, listen, I thought I’d be married by now. I thought I’d find that person and we’d buy a house together and buy furniture together. But just because that hasn’t happened, I don’t have to use an upside down milk crate for a nightstand, like I live in a dorm room, do I?

No, dear sister. Grown-ups should have good knives and nightstands and homes that have been created with love and attentiveness. You don’t have to wait for a partner to invest in your space, in yourself, in your life.

At the same time, being single is an opportunity, even if it’s not one you choose. Spend it. Singleness gives you a little more flexibility (unless you’re single parenting, which is a whole different deal, and which means I think you’re absolutely amazing.).

You might not want to be single right now. I get it. But it affords you some freedoms, and you should take them, every single one of them. I’m so proud of my single friends who are traveling like mad and living in interesting places and training for super-time-consuming races and getting fascinating graduate degrees.

Not every season affords this flexibility, and if you have it, grab it. Take it. Use it up. Please don’t wish away this season just because it doesn’t look the way you thought it would. What does singleness afford you? Time to write that book? Space to learn that skill? Flexibility to spend the summer in that dreamy place? Even if it’s not what you wanted, or not what you planned, how can you spend the opportunity you’ve been given in this season?

And while there are moments when you don’t want to be single, please do know that there are those moments when married people don’t want to be married. There are those moments when parents don’t want to be parents. It’s how life is, for all of us.

A thought for my married friends:

Don’t miss out on friendships with amazing people because they’re single and their rhythm of life is different than yours. My single friends add so much to my life. My life would be so much less rich and fun and challenging if I was only around married people. Lame.

And don’t assume that because someone’s single, they don’t want to hang out with married people, or people with kids. Our Cooking Club is a mix of married and single. Our small group is a mix of married and single. Some of the sweetest connections my kids have aren’t with my mom friends but with our single friends, and some of the most necessary and loving conversations I’ve had in recent months have been with single friends.

We all lose when we spend too much time with people right in the very same demographic. Life gets too small.

Dear, dear single friends: if I could reach through the screen, I’d put my hands on your shoulders, and I’d remind you as often as you need to hear it: you are significant with or without a significant other.

Being in a dating relationship or a marriage relationship doesn’t validate you or make you more.

You are extraordinary, enough, more than enough.

Don’t let a multi-billion dollar wedding industry tell you who you are. What do they know about your particular awesomeness?

You are significant, with or without a significant other.

146 thoughts on “You are Significant With or Without a Significant Other

  1. “We all lose when we spend too much time with people right in the very same demographic. Life gets too small.” So well said! Great post.

  2. Dome of us get hung up on thinking a boyfriend or girlfriend or spouse is a reward for good behavior. Not true.

  3. Thank you so much for your encouragement. I really have needed to hear this recently and it means so much coming from one of my favorite authors.

  4. Thank you. I’ve watched three college kids become so be entrapped by friends who are couples, rings, announcements that they’ve all slipped away from social media for a breather….for a season at least. Two beautiful souls still in grad school, and undergrad, single and needing more discussions like this. I am so thankful for these words. They’ve followed your writings long before I did. You speak our hearts often. Thank you.

  5. Great post, except for this line : “Some of the people I love most in the world are single—either because they haven’t yet found their person, or because their marriage has ended.”
    The word “yet” contradicts everything else you’ve said. “Yet” means everybody is going to get married. “Yet” means there is a significant other for everyone out there. “Yet” means keep waiting, it will happen. “Yet” means your life isn’t complete, but when you meet him/her, then it will be. “Yet” means don’t fully embrace your life, because someday…

  6. Shauna, typically I brush off advice from married people about being single, because we so often get pre-packaged advice about waiting for God’s perfect timing or not thinking that our life is going to be a fairy tale when we ge married. But this is one of the first things I’ve read and said… Wow. She gets it. I feel encouraged, and I totally get the part about not waiting til your wedding to buy dishes or a decent coffee pot. Thank you!

    1. Thank you for pointing this out; that “yet” bothered me, too – for precisely the reasons you stated. Loved just about everything else in the essay…

  7. Your words were like a big hug on this summery morning. Thank you so much for reminding me of my value as a daughter of the king and a lovely human, in a summer of weddings and dates and romantic extravaganza. It is appreciated.

  8. I read this during a meeting (oops) and had to take breaks from reading so I wouldn’t tear up. While I don’t usually wrestle with my own significance, the rest of the world/church seems to have a harder time knowing where to put people like me. The church especially. I’m not a college kid, and since many don’t know what to do with late 20s/early 30s singles, I often fend for myself. Thanks for the reminder about God’s purpose in every season. I’m going to keep decorating my home the way I want it, and I just might buy those dishes, after all. ;-)

  9. Shauna, I so value what you wrote here–I’m sharing it with all my single friends. Can I also speak to married couples without kids? A few years ago in a staff meeting on the verge of what would be a failed adoption I had an epiphany. I had been waiting to live my life until I had kids. Crazy town, I know. In that moment I decided I would not wait to make memories or do fun things. This mindset has also allowed me to make some of those memories with single ladies who have common interests. To everyone waiting (for anything) to start your life: start living today!

  10. Thank you! Turning 40 tomorrow and still single. Although I strive to build a vibrant, purposeful life, it isn’t easy. Thanks for the affirmation and encouragement.

    1. I am so gonna reply to your comment. I’m 42 and wow, SURPRISED it hasn’t happened yet but I’m on a good path and not doubting myself anymore. I got there with some effort (including going to Pathways in TX but have a new boldness and joy for my life now even though I’m single. Yay! It can happen!

  11. Thank you so much for the reminder to cherish this time in my life.. this part made me cheer, “Why should you have to be married to own a decent knife? Why do we only give married people towels and china? Shouldn’t every person, married or not, have a decent coffee pot? Isn’t that sort of a basic human right?”

  12. Bravo! I love every sentence of this. I wrote about many of these topics in my upcoming book, Truth, Lies, and the Single Woman (Beacon Hill Press, October). I was single until age 38 and believed so many of the lies…”There is something wrong with me;” “My life is on hold until I find a spouse;” etc. Thanks for sharing the TRUTH!

  13. I so needed this in the wedding season. I am marrying off the last 2 of my siblings this year and am prepared to get lots of questions from my relatives and friends about “when is it my turn?”.

    Also, I agree that we shouldn’t have to wait until marriage to get a kitchen aid mixer. I mean, single people have people to bake for too right? Why can’t I register after finishing 2 masters and passing the 5 year mark as an urban teacher? Shouldn’t I get nice furniture and new towels. I don’t think I have gotten new towels since I went to college.

    Also, I am sure you look great in a headband!! :)

  14. I’m sitting here with tears in my eyes and hugging my coffee cup. I just wanted to say thanks for getting it. I wish I had friends like you in my life.

    P.S. I love you on the Relevant Podcast. :)

  15. Finally, someone gets that it can be good (even favorable) to be single. Your thoughts are so spot-on, I would love to hear what you have to say about the single parents you briefly mention.

  16. Thank you Shauna for acknowledging our value as friends, to society, and to ourselves. As a person who post-divorce has been single for 14 years, I feel I have so much to offer and try to fully show up wherever I go – with both married and other single friends. I hate to admit it but my feelings get hurt when I’m not invited to events or dinners with friends just because I don’t have a significant other and then when I am with them they talk about all the fun they had. It especially stings if I know I was home alone that particular night. Don’t get me wrong, I have created for myself an existence that I love. I have great friends, I’m available to my family and friends when they need me, I’m able to serve in any capacity I want to without having to check anyone else’s schedule. I’m hopeful to one day be in a relationship again but the right person has not been uncovered and I’m ok with that. I know that God has a plan for me. I just wish that others (even single friends) wouldn’t always have to ask “Have you found a man yet?” Ugh! I am whole either way!!! xoxoxo for your blog!

  17. Shauna, I love this. I found your blog recently and was so pleased to read this. It’s really similar to a talk I gave at the high school where I teach ( ) . I’m sure your single friends are thankful to be included in your family’s life, it’s a rare gift! I’m a thirty-something single who adventures and makes the most of her time, but the loneliest moments are when I’m doing something amazing–alone. The undiscovered secret is to find peace without a “yet.” Thanks again for the post.

    (p.s. I was a couple years behind you at Westmont, we took classes together. Faulkner? Neoclassic Brit Lit? Don’t quite remember…)

  18. I so agree! I just got married about nine months ago, and it is only now that I see the full value of the single years that I had. It’s sad but true that now there are times when I envy my single friends… The grass isn’t perfectly green on either side!

  19. Perfect timing as ever! I’ve been a single parent now for 9 years, longer than I was married. God in his brilliance has shown me so much and I can honestly say (ok most days) I love it. I have a very tall 13 year old son who is gorgeous. Was I intimidated by the start of the teen years, yes! But am I doing it alone, no. The only request I would put in to the worldwide church, as I walk alongside single women in their 30s, is please please please have cross generational small groups, ditch the ages and stages groups and stop putting such a massive emphasis on marriage. And married people or single people, please spend time with single parents, please include them in your holidays, your supper plans, your get togethers. I know we don;’t fit the norm but we can end up not fitting in any group. I am independent, God reliant, happy and confident but churches please find a place for the ever growing numbers of single dads and mums.

  20. You took this right out of the hearts and minds of all our single souls. Thank you for speaking to us and for us and reminding us of our worth.

  21. Thank you so much! I so needed to read this. I’ve said many of the things you’ve written so many times in frustration. I’m from a family where family/kids are everything. I’m 42 female w/o a S.O.. I’ve made my peace that i may be single the rest of my life and I am ok with that. However, some people are not. If I’m invited to some social event I’m included on the invite sent to my parents– even though i live on my own in my own home. Makes me crazy b/c the message to me is I am undeserving of an invite, I don’t count.

    I have a friend from HS who told me point blank she couldnt hang with me b/c I didn’t have an SO for her husband to hang with…. They need to read this article – love it! Thank you.

  22. I appreciate this truth being told because I’ve felt out of place in the church at times…someone would bring it up at an inappropriate time and an inappropriate way and take the focus off being the family of God. I would also like to challenge the idea of needing nice things in life to be living life more fully. I remember trying to “nest” as someone described it when I turned 30 and single (and now single at 40). I agree that it if one can afford it, certain tools that actually work are worth having (reference knife comment). However, I feel like it has become an obsession with modern photography and pinterest to create these amazing visually appealing spaces. I love beauty as much as the next person…just think that if someone can’t afford it, it is OK to live a simple life, too…that one’s dwelling shouldn’t have anything to do with one’s value either…not saying the upside down crate is the answer, but spending less to offer more is as valid.

  23. You really hit upon something (The thing) that has been the hardest about remaining single well past most of my peers… It’s longing to just be Enough. About two days ago God had me sobbing (happy tears) on the bathroom floor (that’s where the TP is) – he simply said “You Are Enough.” Thank you for helping us remember that!

  24. beautifully written! I have so many single friends and they mean so much to me. I also hate the way the world (and the Christian community) tells them they are wrong. My husband and I have a good mix of friends but our single friends love time with us because we are not always trying to hook them up – we just want to make dinners, go to movies, go camping. and do community.

    “Here’s the truth: some of the worst people I know are married. I don’t know how it happens. And some of the truly best people I know are single. I don’t know how that happens, either.” – so true! my best friend ( one of the best people I know!) is single and sent me this article. thanks for being an encouragement in her life and my life!

  25. I love this whole part, but especially the part where you said don’t assume that we don’t want to hang out with married people! So not the case. I am thankful for my few married friends that realize it doesn’t make me feel any less when I’m around them, just the opposite, it makes me feel important and love by those around me!

  26. Thanks so much, Shauna. I printed this article out and will be reading it many times over. As one who has never been married, I appreciate the support, encouragement, and affirmation. I am one of those that friends, and even my church doesn’t quite know what to do with….I don’t have many friends to spend time with as they all do things with other “married couples”. Finding a small group in my church has been a challenge because the groups for “single people” are for those in their 20’s and 30’s (and I’m quite a bit beyond that), and it is thought I wouldn’t “fit” in groups with married people or married people with children. Even as an adult, my family would tell me to invite someone to family events so I would have someone to talk to (since I was the only one not married or with children, apparently I didn’t fit in there either). Thanks again, for your understanding heart, and ability to communicate your heart so well.

  27. Thank you so much for these words and this reminder – I’m definitely in the category of ‘i thought I would be married and have a family by now’ even though i’m “only” 28 my friends are all married and beginning to have babies and I feel like I”m missing out on living when in reality I”m just living a different type of life!

  28. Praise your truth-telling, loving heart. Thank you. I needed these words right at this very moment. Thank you.

  29. Thank you! Some days it’s lonely being single…but God knows and I have an amazing companion in my dog who I adore!! And….I bought the KitchenAid stand mixer already!

  30. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for this article!!! You are a wise woman! As a 37 year old single person, I have spent about 26 of those years believing II have to “wait” to start my life. I deeply regret that I waited so long to begin doing things for me, but I have begun to do so. In fact I am on a quest to complete 37 adventures in my 37th year of life! I am so excited! Thank you for the encouragement. I really needed it! God’s blessings to you!

  31. S’good. I wish single church young people would really and truly take to heart the advice to not hold your breath waiting for The one. Even if you are that young and cute/smart and full of personality person, who is just bound to be “chosen” eventually. I mean really. I’m headed into my later 40s if I’m honest, (and I can lie like a rug in this area, but I just calculated it, gahhh, and it’s true), and every single day–several times a day–and in many different ways, I still think: Gosh, I wish I had a husband. It just seems so basic. And at this age, why dare to even still hope? Is this a case of “hope deferred”? Deferred to when exactly, because I’d rather pick out a home than a grave plot with someone.

    Anyway, I think that at 29, or 31, or XX, that a party should be thrown in lieu of a shower. Oh man, I’d still love to have some great pots & pans and a Kitchen Aid mixer! I can’t bring myself to allow it in my budget. So. Let’s start that. Maybe even for the old 40-plusers!

  32. Hey Shauna!
    Thank you for these words. We always need to hear them, even if we wish it wasn’t our own life station.

    I also wanted to tell you, for some reason I felt like I needed to, you are significant with or without another book. I love your writing, don’t get me wrong, I always have a highlighter by my side when reading your blogs or books. You have become more than just an author for our culture, but a voice that speaks to all. I so loved having you come to APU and hearing your words. Thank you for loving life and modeling an identity outside of your calling. :)

  33. Years ago (towards the end of my college years) I saw a dish pattern that I fell in love with. I was convinced that I would never find another dish pattern that I loved as dearly as that one. I decided to purchase those dishes right then and there because I wasn’t sure if those dishes would still be around by the time I met someone and got married. 15 years later, never been married, and I still smile every time I pull out one of those beautiful dishes from my kitchen cabinet. So glad I didn’t wait until I was married to make my house a home.

  34. Thank you so much for this. Seriously. I’ve always fought to remind people in my life that we are whole human beings regardless of our relationship status, but sometimes it’s hard to remind myself that.

    My younger brother got married last year, and several people came up to me at the reception to ask if I was ok because I didn’t get married first. It made me so mad, because I was SO happy for my brother and sister-in-law, and they picked that moment to remind me of my own aloneness.

    Some of my most joy-giving relationships are with my friends who’ve gotten married in the past few years, because those people do it right – they still include me and their other single friends, and they still love us without constantly asking about when we will meet someone.

    But there’s always that nagging loneliness that returns when the dinners are over and you’ve gone home alone, and this post was such an encouragement to me, so thank you.

  35. Thank you, thank you, thank you for these words, Shauna! As a nearly 30-year old single, I strive to live by these words, and to make the most of the life that I have been blessed with now, rather than always looking ahead to what may still be coming. And most of the time, I’m so happy with my life. But sometimes, subtle (or not so subtle) hints can be made, and sometimes those comments can get in through the cracks, weaken me, and make me feel like I am not enough, or like I’m a failure because I’m not yet married. And on those kinds of days, I need words like this to remind me that I am enough, and that I’m no less significant, just because I don’t have a significant other. So thank you for reminding me of that again today! Your words, as they always seem to do, have a way of getting down deep into my heart. I appreciate them so much! Thank you for sharing them with us all!

  36. About a year ago, a couple in my community group got me a fantastic set of pots and pans — the kind I only saw on other people’s wedding gift registries. It was a huge blessing and a good reminder (every time I use them) that home and hospitality aren’t just for married people.

  37. Shauna, I love the way you say things – thanks for this. As an older single person I have been up and down in many seasons of feeling “less than” other friends who seem to “have it all”. However, in the past few years I have been taking time to look at what I really want and how I want my life to look. Honestly I don’t feel that desperate (and Lord I’ve felt that way in the past a bunch!!) to be in a relationship or to have a family. I am enjoying figuring out what I want to do (even if it means sitting on my couch in my pajamas eating Lucky Charms) and really being thoughtful about the things that truly make me content. I do want to get married, I truly do but the exploration of that and evolution of that has been so much greater than I could have ever imagined and I can see God working in me & in my relationships. So thanks for reiterating something single people need to remember daily and a principle I try to use in my daily life — It’s not who others say you are but who God says you are.

  38. I wanted to have a shower for my 50th birthday celebration (cuz I have been single all my life and have bought tons of shower and wedding gifts for other couples) and my family refused to do it. How sad. They thought it was funny, but pathetic. That’s how you make someone feel “not enough.”

  39. Thank you for this. Your point about not waiting for marriage to start life is really good. I totally am doing that, and it’s dumb. Thanks.

  40. Thank you so much for writing this. What a sweet and true message. The post college season feels like the “when is it my turn” time of life, when it really should be a time to seize all things singleness gifts- time to pursue a deep relationship with our Heavenly Father, time to travel, and time to make decisions for one. So thankful for your simple, clear truths.Your writing is such a gift to me.

  41. I just wish to sincerely thank you for this. As a 30-something-year-old single woman who is seeking to pursue God and make the most out of my life, it is an incredible gift to be seen as just as valid and valuable as my married friends. Unfortunately we are too used to being treated as if our life hasn’t really begun yet, as if we are missing something essential to being human, and as if there’s something wrong with us for not having it. Thank you thank you thank you for recognizing that marriage is not a prize for being a superior human being, any more than singleness is an indication of being an inferior human being. Too often we singles, even in the church, get the opposite message: marriage is a reward for godliness and only the married can truly be sanctified, unselfish people. A good look around at some married and single people should be enough to cure us of that notion! Thank you so much for this.

  42. Thank you, thank you, thank you! Oh my word – I so needed to hear this. Just got my baby brother married off to my very good (younger) friend last week and have struggled for months with feeling like my life isn’t as important because I’m not dating, planning a wedding or getting ready to have babies. People don’t try to make you feel badly, it just happens. Giving myself permission to buy nice dishes might be like giving myself permission to buy pretty clothes even though I’m not at my “ideal” weight. Thanks for the reminder that I’m significant the way I am because of Who created me the way I am meant to be. Also, I’m grateful to be reminded to love the small group I meet with – they include me and love on me regardless of my relationship status. Thank You, Jesus.

  43. OMG this is fabulous, so true, so impactful. I have been thinking the same thing for a long time as a single person. Let’s enjoy what we have! So many married people are miserable — the goal isn’t “marriage”, it is a partnership with someone you want to share your life with. Until you find that person take advantage of what you do have – freedom! Here’s my contribution to what makes being single great:

    Thank you!

  44. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Coming out of a terribly difficult and lonely season, where all I wanted was to wish my singleness away, I am now stepping into a place (thanks in large part to going to counseling; I agree with your advice there!) where I am embracing opportunity with the startled realization that this IS my real life and all that it affords is a gift beyond what I’ve been seeing. So grateful for your words; they are treasured and true and I want to shout them from the rooftops.

  45. Shauna, overall, this is a fantastic piece. The only thing I take issue with in this article is your assertion that the single people you love are single “either because they haven’t yet found their person, or because their marriage has ended” Ouch. That statement makes the whole piece less credible to me. It assumes that the magical two-person romance has either failed or is lacking in the single person’s life (read: poor you!). While that may be true for some, it certainly isn’t true for all of us! Imagine a third category: A single professional woman who has a life filled with friends, lovers, adventures, meaningful work, epic romantic encounters, and she has her own clean apartment and fat *unshared* bank account! She finds that she likes it this way just fine! ;)

  46. Don’t forget, Jesus was single. “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Romans 12:2

  47. Omg….I couldn’t have read this at a better time. Feeling less than is something I’ve been struggling with these past few weeks just as my closest friends and co-workers are getting engaged or married and my relationship just ended.

    Thank you!

  48. This was beautiful and encouraging. Thank you, Shauna! I have been thinking about this a lot lately, having wasted pretty much all of my adult life waiting for Mr. Right, who’s never shown up! I used to take it for granted that I’d meet someone someday, but at 36, I’m starting to accept the fact that I may not, and wondering “what happens next?” The regret and fear of wasting precious time is starting to outweigh the fear of never finding someone to “complete” me. So I’m starting to slowly creep out of the hole that I’ve crawled into waiting to be “found”. Your uplifting words are the kind of encouragement that people like me need to hear!

  49. I never read blogs. Ever. But a friend shared this on Facebook, and I was instantly drawn in by the title. This is absolutely brilliantly written, and nothing could be more truthful and accurate. Thank you for this!!!

  50. Ah, what a breath of fresh air!

    I just wanted to point out one thing. I don’t think it was intended to sound this way, because I think the over-arching message is that people ARE significant, whether single or married, but I struggle with what it means to take advantage of the freedom of singleness. Yes, I have far fewer demands on my time and attention and, although I don’t always love being single and childless, there is no denying that I enjoy lazy Saturday mornings when the only thing forcing me out of bed is a dog anxious for a walk. On the other hand, just because I’m single doesn’t mean I have unlimited resources to travel, the flexibility to live in interesting places or free time to train for ultra-marathons. Yet, when all my friends are posting pictures on facebook of their wedding, their new house and their kiddos being adorable, I feel pressure to accomplish something that will validate my significance as a person. But the reality is, my life has value even in its monotonousness. By rejecting the notion that only exciting things are important, there is space in my life to show up at the hospital when a friend has an unexpected surgery or babysit so a couple can go on a much-needed date or go to coffee with someone who is new in town and struggling to find friends.

    Do I do it perfectly? Absolutely not. Do I think single people should take advantage of opportunities if they present themselves? Absolutely. My point is that people are significant: whether married, single, divorced or widowed, whether they have ten children or none, whether they are living their dream in New York or LA or just barely making it in Detroit or Tulsa, whether they travel to exotic places or prefer to stay closer to home, whether their hobby is running or rock-climbing or knitting or reading or volunteering in a capacity that deserves more recognition than they will ever receive. People are just significant and there is nothing they can do or fail to do that can change that.

  51. Thank you for this. A couple of comments – although I think there are married people/parents who sometimes wish they were single/childless, that’s somewhat different from wanting it to change all of the time. Or having regrets about the marriage and/or children (which I know some people have). Also, as much as I travel, build my career, volunteer, decorate and invite people into my home, it’s still not the same without a partner. It is most depressing when I’ve had an active, full day only to come home to an empty apartment. Also, winter and hurricanes can be awful.

    Thank you though. You do get it and it’s a reminder for everyone in every season that we need not have the exact same experiences to have empathy.

  52. I have been walking with three young women since being their youth pastor when they were in seventh grade…they are now in college and struggling as their first wave of friends are just getting engaged…I read this to them last night and there were tears (theirs and mine!) …love this post because it is true for every person, every age, every season…thank you!

  53. I think this is nice and a great start to the conversation on singleness but it leaves out a lot of the other big reasons why it’s tough being unmarried. Many people I know who are unmarried feel significant, useful, and happy. But it doesn’t mean that those things are fulfilling without someone to share them with. And as much as hanging out with married couples can be awesome, my married friends have things that are top priorities in their lives (spouses and children) and it’s tough always being a fourth or fifth or sixth priority for people. A lot of the desire for marriage is to have someone who makes you and your relationship top priority. And then there’s having kids, creating families, and a sense of a certain human experience that we want to be a part of. And while it’s so nice of Shauna to say these things, we all know that people who are married with kids probably don’t really understand the complicated issue of singleness in post- college adulthood. But let’s keep the dialogue open and not be afraid to say that while sometimes being single is awesome, some times it sucks and it’s okay to admit to that. It doesn’t mean we see ourselves as insignificant!

  54. We should have showers for singles. Why showers for marrieds only??? How to start such a tradition?

  55. I wish the “church” – and I am talking about the church as a whole, not a local congregation – would realize this. I wish married people would realize this. A few years ago, I was visiting a college friend I hadn’t seen in years. I was in her first wedding, and was meeting her second husband for the first time. She was telling me about one of her friends that had recently passed away, and that the friend’s husband and 2 children were having their first Christmas without her. Her comment: “I don’t understand why God would give her cancer, and not give cancer to a single woman without children.” NOT KIDDING – she actually said that to me. She knows I have never been married. It left me wondering, is this what she really thinks of me – that because I’m not married, and don’t have children, I’m a second class citizen? Thank you for your words. It’s nice to know not everyone thinks that way of singles.

  56. Thank you so much for this. I haven’t had time to read your blog for a while. decided to make time this morning, and this! just when I’m dealing with my housemates beginning to date each other, so a couple in my face every day. And I’ve been thinking how nice it would be to have my own house that I have decorated myself. But feeling guilty, like that desire is selfish. Thank you for telling me that it is ok, at 28, when everyone else is married and having babies, to want my own home. Thank you for affirming my significance in singleness.

  57. (Here’s to a super rambly, train of thought comment!)
    Thank you, thank you, thank you. What beautiful words. Not beautiful in a flowery way but beautiful in a “you get it” way.
    As a “single never married” 43 years old, the place I feel most single and out of place is my church. The church I’ve been a part of for over 20 years.
    I’ve been a homeowner (well, I pay the bank to live in that home) for ten years and people (married friends) have told me that owning and taking care of my home is a deterrent to guys. Really? Am I supposed to just sit back and do nothing and not live my life? I HATE taking care of a home alone. Hate it. I’d love to have a partner in that endeavor but I’m not going to sit around and do nothing. I must live my life.
    I’m also told by friends that with all my travel I’ll “never meet anyone.” Oy, again, I have to live my life!
    There is not stronger desire in my life than to be a wife and mother (except to honor and love the Lord.) With that, I refuse to sit on the sofa and wait for the UPS man. That desire hasn’t lessened in over 30 years. I have hope but I don’t dwell on what I don’t have. Gosh, that would just be miserable.
    Seriously, so rambly!
    Again, Shauna, thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  58. Thank you Shauna, I cried buckets reading because so many things rang true. Sometimes it hurts to be overlooked by my married friends simply because I am single. Thank you for your wise words and for the hope they bring!

  59. Shauna, once again, you spoke directly into my heart. Thanks for the wonderful reminder. I need everyone to read this!!! :)

  60. Lovely! I am a married gal, mama to two, and so incredibly grateful for the color and life my single friends bring to my life. My kids ADORE them and frankly, I get a bit bored of only seeing “mom” friends! I love my single friends, love hearing their adventuress, and am so grateful they love and my kids. Plus, I’m only 26, and I would be so lonely if they all excluded me because I have kids, too! I love that they still create community for me, and me for them.

  61. I have reread and quoted this blog an insane amount of times in conversations with friends and family since you posted it. You have put into words how I feel about marriage…it shouldn’t be entered into if the purpose is to fulfil a social norm. Thank you Shauna, for your insight and affirmation!

  62. This has been my mantra (and at times battle cry) for why I enjoy being single. I am enough where I am, and I will take every opportunity to travel and learn what I can in this unique and beautiful space. It fills my heart in a good way, and if I get married I will have many adventures and stories to tell my significant other about what I was doing before we were together. Thanks Shauna! *hugs*

  63. Can you write an article about being important as an adult even if you don’t have kids? That would help me feel a lot better!! I feel like so many people wonder what is wrong with you if you are childless at age 30. I want to have kids very much, but now I’m going through a divorce and feel like I can’t compete with everyone else who is seemingly happily married with kids. I feel like a failure!

  64. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I couldn’t agree with you more. I was 50 when I married for the first time, and I made up my mind to make a full life as a single woman. Now, married for 7 years, I am coming along side young single women to encourage them.

  65. Thank you for this great reminder of the truth in being single. I am recently divorced at age 25 and was forced back into being single and its been a new season learning how to be single. You spoke truth into my life, but also truth that its ok that I want to still have a home with nice towels and that I can simply invest in my community where I am at. thank you for sharing both sides of singleness.

  66. Thank you so much for this. I’m 35 and single. I’ve always wanted really fancy, nice china (the kind you get when you get married), but thought it would be silly to get since it’s just me. I think it’s time to make a purchase:)

  67. Thank you for this, Shauna. I would also add that every CHURCH could afford to hear these words, not just college kids. Singleness is a season that stretches far beyond the tender years of undergrad. Keep up the great work! And thanks for the encouragement!

  68. Thank you. This is very timely. My best friend just got married yesterday. I’m at a time where all my friends are married and I’m still single. I struggle with whether I want to be married or not. I’m going to remind myself and others of your saying :)

  69. thank you so much. i mean, really. thank you so much. this came as a grace at just the right time. bless you, shauna.

  70. I am 37 years old. It took me 37 years to realize I was waiting for my life to start/be of value when I became a wife. I started counseling a few months ago to try to deal with losing my mom last year. I have discovered so many a-ha’s through this process. I’m learning to find my value as me. Just me. The church I grew up in has very little respect for women. We are wives and mothers. So,what if you aren’t those things? I’m on a journey of discovery of what God thinks about me. Not church leaders deciding what God thinks about me. I am so thankful to have discovered you, Rachel Held Evans, Sarah Bessey, Jen Hatmaker. You ladies are showing me that God values me just the way I am. Period. End of story. Thank you much.

  71. I really like what you have say. Except for the little part about people being single because they haven’t found their significant other yet. This is an assumption that everyone will actually get married eventually. And that is simply not the case.

    I am a 32yo single, same-sex attracted male. I have chosen to live according to a traditional sexual ethic (no sex before marriage, marriage between man and woman etc). I will likely die single (unless some major miracle happens to make me straight, and even then, doubt I’d get involved after so long being single).

    So yes, some people are single for now, but others will be so for pretty much most of their lives.

    Thanks though for raising this very important issue! The church needs to hear it more often!

    1. Amen to this, Andrew. I appreciate you raising this point. The church simply doesn’t recognize that for some of us, marriage is not in our future. And that it’s ok. The early church valued celibacy, and I think those of us who do live celibately and for whom it is probably life-long, it would be a lot easier if this was acknowledge, encouraged and celebrated rather than ignored or contradicted (“of course you’ll find someone someday!”)

  72. Thank you Shauna. I think it’s so easy for young people to get caught up in finding a partner, especially when all their friends are starting to get married. It’s important to remember that life has so much to offer, and you can live so freely while you’re single.
    I’ve recently come around to the idea that I might never get married. I might adopt children, and I might raise those children on my own. And that’s okay with me, because I agree with what you say: I am significant, with or without a significant other.

  73. Wow! Can I just say… Like so many other people commenting, thank you! I have been struggling with feeling not up to par because at this point in my life all of my friends are getting married and I am stuck here being single. Some days I don’t mind being single, but I can’t lie there are those hard days that I just wish I had someone there, especially the past few weeks with the holidays. And I know I need to just have patience and that it will all work out how it’s supposed to, and people tell me all the time that I need to not worry about it. But they are all married and don’t really make me feel any better about it. I have been looking for encouragment for awhile now and your words were just what I needed to hear. They didn’t make me feel less than but that I really have nothing holding me back and that I shouldn’t let my perspective of what should be, hold me back from what could be.
    I have slowly been doing things that I never would have done before because I didn’t have someone to do it with me, like go to the movies alone or go on a hike or an adventure. But it has been so up lifting every time I do one of those things that I felt like I couldn’t do on my own and has slowly given me strength and shown me that nothing is holding me back.

    Anyway thank you again.

  74. I often feel less significant because I am single. I am often treated less significant by people as well.

    It’s really is hard. I know that the Lord has me single for a reason and purpose right now, and I am content with that. But where I struggle the most is not fitting into the rest of the culture- seeing people uncomfortable and don’t know how to handle me being single.

    This article is really dear to my heart, I am sure I will come back and read it often. Thank you for writing it and sharing it!

  75. Thank you so, so, so much for this post. I can tell how genuine it is, and I feel truly affirmed and comforted. Not a day goes by that I don’t have to fight with thoughts of inferiority because I am single in my 30s. Your words are the real truth, though! I could not agree more with this post.

  76. Please send this memo to “the church.” When the institution you should most trust – idolizes families and less than 20% of churches have a specific “singles ministry,” wow – it’s hard to believe singles ARE significant.

  77. Both my siblings got married within the past two years, while my ex of half a decade left me right before my 29th birthday a year ago. Everyone around me is coupled up and having kids. And I am happy for them.

    But I have really been struggling. With many things, but they all seem to stem from this “inadequacy” somehow.

    I needed to read this. Thank you for sharing it.

  78. Shauna, thank you.

    Heard you say this as I was listening to your talk at Ocean Hills in 2012 on YouTube yesterday. I am married and wish someone would have said this to me before my dating years. I adore my husband and God has been gracious in blessing me with a marriage I’m so thankful for. I’d never change that part of my life… but I wish I could change the BEFORE meeting my husband. I was so wrapped up in finding significance in somebody else/with somebody else… so much heartache and regret.

    Nevertheless, as I traverse my fourth year of pregnancy loss (5th miscarriage last month) and waiting for children in God’s time, I’m applying this bit of wisdom to this current season of life. I am significant with or without children, and I’m not going to let this time be overrun with the weeds of pain and hurting, though they have their place from time to time. I am choosing to be significant – as a beloved daughter of Christ, as a cherished wife to my husband, as a friend, a teacher, a person who has worth in this beautiful, glorious world.

    I’ve also sent this blog post to my best friend, who’s single. She’s rocking the single life, traveling as much as possible and finding joy in the everyday as a nurse, daughter, sister, cousin, friend. But as many singles often do from time to time, she gets lonely. I pray this will wrap her in encouragement and allow her to embrace the ability she has to joyously take advantage of this season in her life. And to remind her that she has worth, WITH OR WITHOUT a significant other. Truly life-changing.

  79. I’m pretty sure I already commented on this, but I’m commenting again, because I come back to this post every time someone makes me feel that I need fixing because at almost 35 I am still (gasp!) single. I know my value isn’t tied to another person, but so many others make it their mission to get me married. I thank you (again and again) for putting into words what I could not for so long.

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